It has been three years since the clash between the Indian and Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops occurred in the Galwan Valley of eastern Ladakh.
The clash resulted in the loss of 20 Indian Army soldiers from the 16 Bihar Regiment, and an undisclosed number of Chinese PLA soldiers. Reportedly, the Chinese casualties numbered between 40 and 45, while the Chinese government officially acknowledged only three.
The clashes led to the ongoing standoff, which has now reached its fourth year, on the entire Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Here are the five thing that changed in Eastern Ladakh after the clash.
1. Increase in Troop Strength
Until, the Chinese decided to move additional troops right upto the LAC, the Indian Army used to guard the entire eastern Ladakh region with only a division worth of troops (15,000 soldiers) belonging to the Leh-headquartered 14 Corps.
After the clashes, however, the troop strength had to be tripled to more than two divisions (50,000 soldiers), alongside their supporting elements.
A Rashtriya Rifles force was also inducted for rear-area security.
2. Re-orientation of Strike Corps
The Indian Army has three large strike corps (1, 2 and 21 Strike Corps), apart from a fourth mountain strike corps (17 Corps).
Strike corps are large formations, consisting 90,000 soldiers. These formations are heavily armored and mechanised, with their primary objective being the deep penetration of enemy territory and the capture of strategically important locations.
Until 2021, the three strike corps (1, 2, and 21 Strike Corps) were predominantly oriented towards Pakistan in the plains sector.
However, following the standoff, the Army HQ decided to re-orient its Bhopal Headquartered 1 Strike Corps against the Chinese in the Northern sector.
3. Induction of Armor, Mechanised and Supporting Assets
The induction of strike corps in the eastern Ladakh resulted in an increase in the deployment of heavy armor, such as tanks and infantry fighting vehicles.
From the earlier 4-5 armor regiments, the Indian Army has now deployed more than 10-12 armor regiments in the area. Repair, recovery and supporting elements were also inducted.
Moreover, additional artillery regiments operating the newly inducted M-777 Ultra light howitzer (ULH) and K-9 Vajra-T tracked howitzer were also inducted in the area.
4. Operationalisation of Cutting Edge ISR Assets and UAVs
As the Russian-Ukraine war has shown, real-time reconnaissance of the area, using fixed-wing and hand-held drones and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets is necessary for superior awareness in the battlefield.
India has not only inducted Israeli Heron drones for long-endurance medium altitude recon, but also inducted hand-held small drones from private Indian companies like Idea Forge's Switch UAV and Nagastra-1 loitering munition.
Furthermore, the Indian Army became the first major Army of the world to operationalise SWARM drones. These SWARM drones were delivered to the Army by a Bengaluru-based start-up, NewSpace Research, which delivered the drones in february, on the sidelines of Aero India 2023.
5. Creation of Border Infrastructure
The induction of large formations, armored columns and ISR assets and there supporting infrastructure requires good infrastructure like roads and bridges for connectivity and sustainment in the high-altitude region.
The harsh climate and rarefied air requires the creation of new temperature-controlled habitats for the soldiers. New habitats for more than 22,000 troops and 450 armored vehicles were constructed.
The government has also given a renewed push towards construction of new helipads, advanced landing grounds (ALGs), roads, tunnels and bridges, in the last three years.
The capital budget for the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has almost been doubled from the earlier 3,500 crore in 2022-23 to 5,00 crore, this year.
New tunnels like the under-construction, Zojilla and Z-morh tunnels connecting J&K to Ladakh, Shinkula tunnel connecting Himachal Pradesh to Zanskar valley, and a tunnel under Hamboting la pass are under various stages of planning and construction.
All the bridges on the new Darbuk-Shyok Daulat Beg Oldie (DS-DBO) road are being upgraded to the Class-70 speifications, to carry any vehicle weighing more than 70 tonnes, as well.
Helipads and ALGs, in Chushul, Nyoma, Thoise, Hanle and Thakung have also been upgraded.
Apart, from the visible infrastructure, underground ammuntion depots, petrol, oil and lubricants (POL) shelters have also been constructed in various place to stock supplies for the brutal winters.
Editorial Associate at Swarajya. Writes on Indian Military and Defence.
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